Student experience: Working on placement at Collective Encounters

Ashleigh Huntsman

Final year Law and Philosophy student, Ashleigh, is currently completing her SOTA300 Work Placement Experience module at Liverpool-based arts organisation Collective Encounters.

The module is the School of the Arts’ work placement opportunity which gives students the chance to experience different roles in a real work setting.

Here Ashleigh tells us about her experience and what she’s learned so far:

My SOTA300 placement is a Marketing Assistant role at Collective Encounters – an arts organisation in Liverpool specialising in theatre for social change through working with vulnerable people. The work they have done over the past 15 years is phenomenal, with performances like ‘Cracked’ and ‘Wealth is Health’ touring around the UK.

I started my placement in September, attending weekly workshops with a fantastic group. From the moment I stepped foot in my first workshop, I was immediately put at ease – the group were extremely welcoming. I’ve done a range of things while participating in the workshops; from symmetrical movement acting in pairs to singing as part of a group (something I NEVER thought I would be capable of doing)!

The reason behind attending the workshops was to become a familiar member of the organisation. It was important for the group to feel comfortable when the time came for me to work on the marketing for the March performance of ‘In Our Times’. Without their help, I would have had a difficult time producing any content to promote the performance, so it was important to build a strong relationship with the group.


The top three skills I think I have developed during my time on placement are:

  • Confidence: The opportunities I have been given through these workshops have massively helped with my confidence. Everyone is so accepting and encouraging so I have never shied away from anything. The support network is a real credit to the organisation.
  • Empathy: Through building relationships with the workshop participants, I have been lucky enough to hear the many stories which are shared amongst the group. This has developed my ability to understand and share the feelings of others which is a really valuable skill, especially in learning how to respond appropriately to different situations which you may not have encountered before.
  • Collaboration: In the workshops we frequently have to work together to produce scenes, songs and dances. Collaboration is key to ensuring everyone’s ideas are put together to produce something we are all happy with. Hearing other people’s ideas can help you have a better outcome as they can often contribute something that you may not have thought of.

These skills, and more, have proved invaluable in my marketing role at the organisation. I had to be confident with my ideas and empathetic with others in the group. Understanding that other people are busy too was an important learning curve. Chasing responses to emails was stressful, but being able to take a step back and understand that everyone else is also busy was a big help. Finally, being able to collaborate effectively with other members of the Collective Encounters team and discuss different marketing tactics gave me great advice and guidance when I needed it.

Collective Encounters

Promoting the performance

As Marketing Assistant, I set myself the objective of attracting lots of students to the ‘In Our Times’ performance.

In order to promote the performance to students, I took over the Collective Encounter’s Instagram page (@collectiveencounters). I specifically focused on creating ‘stories’ of the rehearsals I attended; taking photos, videos, making boomerangs, GIFs and polls. This was fun and allowed me to get creative with the content! It was a good way of letting followers see what rehearsals are like, creating hype over the performance and was also a way of documenting the progression of the actors in the run up to the performance.

I have also invited societies at the University to the show, created posters to advertise and done some blogging to spread the word. Trying out different tactics has been really useful in advancing my knowledge of marketing.

I would 100% recommend applying for the SOTA300 module if you are an Arts student as the experience and skills I have gained through the work are ones that will be with me for life and I feel very fortunate to have been involved in such an amazing organisation.

So whether you have an interest in performing arts, or just fancy something different to do, come along to the performance of ‘In Our Times’ –  it’s going to be great!

Event Information
‘In Our Times’ is taking place on Wednesday 6 March 2019 at Hinterlands, Cains Brewery. Doors open 7pm and tickets are £2.75. All welcome!

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